Shepparton News

Helping others get behind the wheel and learn

- By Rosa Ritchie

Sara Aboud’s ability to speak Arabic, the third most commonly spoken language in Shepparton, is a huge help to her driving school students who find it far easier to concentrat­e on the road when listening to instructio­ns in their mother tongue.

Mrs Aboud opened Sara’s Driving School in 2019 after her husband, Hayder, pointed out that her multilingu­al skills would be sought-after as a driving instructor in Shepparton.

Initially, Mrs Aboud was a bit sceptical about her husband’s business propositio­n. She wasn’t sure if she would like teaching learner drivers.

Two years since getting started, she couldn’t be happier in her chosen career.

‘‘I was a bit scared of how it might be in the car, it doesn’t seem like a safe job,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s so rewarding, I enjoy it so much now.

‘‘You get to see how people start from day one, where they don’t have that skill, and you gradually see how they build their skills.

‘‘We start knowing each other, we start talking — there’s some social work there, too.’’

Mrs Aboud said although there were other multilingu­al driving instructor­s in Shepparton, to the best of her knowledge she was the only one who spoke Arabic dialects.

Arabic is the official language of more than 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East, and it has about 30 dialects.

Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world and the third most spoken language in Australia, behind English and Mandarin.

More than 1400 people in Shepparton speak the ancient language at home, according to the 2016 Census — it’s the third most common language in Shepparton behind English and Italian.

While some of Mrs Aboud’s students speak a different dialect of Arabic than hers — she was raised in Australia with Iraqi ancestry — they still understand one another.

‘‘Some words are a little bit different but you tend to get to the point in the end and then I learn those new words in other dialects,’’ she said.

Sara’s Driving School attracts a lot of women who want their licence and she frequently instructs men who have recently migrated to Australia.

Mrs Aboud said she had a quiet and calm demeanour as an instructor, despite the fact she often had to hit the emergency brake during a new learner’s first few lessons.

She teaches people of all ages and background­s in English or Arabic, from teenagers through to her oldest client to date, a 76-year-old man.

‘‘I cannot say how much I love it,’’ Mrs Aboud said.

The biggest challenge by far for learner drivers is concentrat­ion while trying to multi task, according to the popular driving instructor, which is far more difficult when the student is also trying to speak and listen in a second language.

‘‘I’ve had some people who’ve gone through that previously and they said that they gave up on trying to drive,’’ she said.

‘‘So they stopped it for a while, then they’ve decided to come back when they finally found someone that can help them out in their language.’’

 ?? ?? Multilingu­al teacher: Sara Aboud’s ability to speak Arabic is helping her driving school students understand instructio­ns.
Multilingu­al teacher: Sara Aboud’s ability to speak Arabic is helping her driving school students understand instructio­ns.

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